Young starts attract comets Hubble observation

HD172555, a star outside our solar system and a part of Beta Pictoris Moving Group which is the closest collection of stars to Earth has been observed to attract comets towards itself by NASA’s Hubble telescope. This exocomet is 95 light-years away from the Earth and approximately 23 million years old.

The study presented at 229th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society on January 6 further explained that this is the third time that they have observed this kind of activity in the extrasolar system and resemble the plunging of sungrazing comets into the sun.

Carol Grady, a lead author of the study from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said “Seeing these sun-grazing comets in our solar system and in three extrasolar systems means that this activity may be common in young star systems. This activity at its peak represents a star’s active teenage years. Watching these events gives us insight into what probably went on in the early days of our solar system, when comets were pelting the inner solar system bodies, including Earth. In fact, these star-grazing comets may make life possible, because they carry water and other life-forming elements, such as carbon, to terrestrial planets”.

The scientists at NASA used Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and observed the atmosphere around the star where the gas was moving 36,000 miles per hour, signs of carbon and silicon were spotted.

The gaseous waste that surrounded the atmosphere of the star if has oxygen and hydrogen’s fingerprint will prove the leftovers to be a comet. The composition, however, needs to match the condition. Further, observation is been conduction with the tools to know whether the vaporized material is ice or rocky. If icy, will establish the resemblance with the comet and if rocky, will resemble an asteroid.